Classroom Control and Discipline: Effects of Rewards and Punishments

Unit 1 – Definition of Terms

a. Classroom Control
Class control has to do with the ability to maintain order and discipline among the class pupils with the objective of creating a conducive learning.

b. Discipline
The word discipline is perhaps difficult to define because it means different thing to different people and professions. To the military, discipline means complete obedience to order. To some others it means total conformity to the laid down rules and norms. The word discipline is also used in higher institutions of learning i.e. Universities, to denote a branch of knowledge or a subject. However, in classroom situation, discipline is viewed differently.

If we go by the verb meaning, it means to punish. As a noun, discipline means having developed self-control. In the classroom situation, the noun meaning is preferred.

c. Rewards
Rewards in the classroom situation refers to the complimentary comments, gifts or marks students are given for their good performances, actions, behaviour or services. This is a counterpart of punishment. It is actually a worthy device to compensate the pupils for their praise- worthy actions. Equally, it is used to stimulate the pupils to more good actions or to work harder.

d. Punishment
Punishment is the discomfort or pain inflicted on an offender solely as a result of some definite violation of agreed rules or regulations of the school. It is usually given by someone in authority.

Unit 2 – Factors that aid Class Control and Discipline

The classroom control is much influenced by the teacher’s leadership qualities. The first assignment a teacher has to do is to bring the pupils under control and to use all possible stimulating activities to sustain the control as he teaches. Some of the ways of creating good classroom control are:

1. Through preparation of his lesson:
A teacher who is not sure of his facts or who is shallow in the topic will not be able to control his class as expected.

2. Teachers’ own personality:
This refers to the teacher’s human relationship with the pupils, his physical appearance, the way he speaks, his temper and mannerism.

3. Classroom arrangement and organization:
A teacher who organizes his class in such a way that he can get to any part or any material without disturbing the peace of the class, will sustain the control longer than a teacher who is unorganised. Equally, the teacher who lays out the materials he needed for his lesson in appropriate places and gets them without wasting time during the lesson, stands a better chance of sustaining the class control.

4. Teacher’s performances during teaching:
A teacher who is dull in presentation gives the pupils the opportunity to wander in their minds. A teacher who knows the names of all his pupils, who is brilliant and active in his presentation, who gives brisk and clear instructions arid who has consideration for his pupils will have their cooperation and submission.

5. Involvement of the pupils in the lesson:
When the pupils are interested and involved in the lesson they have no time for indisciplinary activities.

6. Teacher’s strictness:
The teacher should be strict, firm but kind. There should be no favouritism or bias in all he does in class.

Unit 3 – Kinds of Reward

In schools, teachers use reward to:

i. commend their pupils for their efforts or a good act done,
ii. encourage the pupils to continue striving harder to do better,
iii. encourage other pupils to emulate the recipients.

Children like to get rewards. They hate to be punished. This shows the possible effects of rewards in relation to the pupils and the schools the pupils and their class teacher. There are different modes of rewards. These are:

i. Praise.
This is the commonest form of reward at the disposal of the teacher. Complimentary statements like ‘very good’, ‘Well done’, ‘Good boy’ ‘thank you’ are praises which pupils like to hear. Equally, clapping for them, hailing them, patting them on the back, make them, happy.

Most educators are of the opinion that praise is far more an effective reward man prize, for example. One of the reasons is that, it is readily available to be used.

Secondly, it is not as costly as buying a gift. In fact, it does not cost any money. However, the teacher should consider whom to praise, when to praise and how to praise so as to make it effective. Praise should be based on progress or praiseworthy actions.

For example, a child A’ who normally gets between 7 and 8 out of 10 has not improved as pupil B’ who rose from 2 out of 10 to 6 out of 10. Thus, pupil B’ should be praised for his progress.

ii. Prizes.
This is an expensive form of reward. It should not be frequently given. The prizes should not be too costly and they should be the type that will be useful to the children directly. Prizes won for academic ability should not be as valued as those for hard work, good conduct, and praiseworthy actions.

The fact is that, academic ability is a natural endowment. The learner may not always have to study hard to achieve. This is unlike a less endowed pupil but who performs highly as a result of his hard work.

iii. Place taking.
A commonly used form of reward is place taking. This is a situation where the pupils are ranked according to their performances in given tasks. Much as this is an age long form of reward, not much modification has been done to it to achieve some of the objectives of reward.

One of the reasons is that it is always to the advantage of the gifted or brilliant pupils. The weak ones, however much they try, often find themselves below. Thus, they become discouraged. Only very few children react to low positions and say “I will do better next time!

iv. Position of Responsibility in Class or School
This is an assignment and also a reward for the pupils who display proven qualities of leadership or ability to perform in one activity or the other. For example, pupils who prove to be accommodating, responsible and possess other sterling qualities of leadership could be made the head boy or a prefect later.

Unit 4 – Principles Underlying Rewards

i. Rewards should be within the reach of every child.
They should not be limited only to the brilliant pupils. Instead, they should be for all the children who show evidences of progress.

ii. They should not be expensive.
Rewards could be exercise books, pencil. biro, pen and other simple school materials.

iii. Rewards should not be given frequently neither should they be numerous.
This is to avoid losing its value. If for every little act a reward is given, then it will become cheap and valueless.

iv. Rewards should be for commendable efforts.
They should not be for natural academic ability.

Unit 5 – Purpose and Kind of Punishment

One of the purposes of punishment is to correct the misbehaviour of the child thereby bringing a change ¡n him for the better. Punishment should aim at making the children see their mistakes and stop behaving antisocially or contrary to the school or societal rules and regulations or norms
Secondly, punishment is inflicted to deter other pupils from copying the antisocial behaviour of the offender.

Punishment may take many forms. It ranges from simple verbal interaction to expulsion. Punishment at each stage depends on the gravity of the offence and the prevailing situation. Punishment can be classified broadly into three categories as follows:

i. Verbal interaction punishments.
These include serious advice, conference with the pupils parents, censure or class scolding.

ii. Deprivation punishments.
These include loss of mark, temporary deprivation from performing responsibilities in class or school, sending pupil out of class, deprivation of pleasure, detention and task.

iii. Harsh or serious punishments.
These include corporal punishment, suspension, and expulsion from school. Corporal punishment is not recommended in schools these days. However, the headteacher can administer corporal punishment.

It is one of the punishments of the last resort. A pupil who has self-discipline would have changed with any of the milder punishments discussed earlier. Corporal punishment should not be indiscriminately used neither should it be inflicted under anger or frequently. Hard canes or unyielding materials should not be used on the child. The pupils should not be beaten on the head.

Above all, the child must see that he is given a fair trial before the punishment. Corporal punishment should be recorded in the Punishment Record Book. This is to protect the head teacher in future.

Suspension is meant for grievous offences. Expulsion is the last resort of punishments Both suspension and expulsion must be recorded in the Punishment Record Book. Clearance must also be received from the school proprietor before expulsion.

Unit 6 – Principles Underlying Effective Punishment

i. The punishment should be given near where the offence was committed and as soon as possible after the trial so that the offender can associate the punishment with the offence.
ii. It should not be prolonged.
iii. The punishment must fit the offence.
iv. The age, physical and emotional conditions of the pupil and the sex must be considered.
v. Punishment should not be administered in anger.
vi. The teacher must be convinced and he must make it clear that the offender deserves the punishment.
vii. As much as possible, the simplest punishment should be inflicted for an offence. Evidence of mercy should be displayed.
viii. Punishment should educate the offender against future occurrence.

Culled from PDE 103 – General Principles and Methods in Education – NTI

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